*Routine (n) – A sequence of actions regularly followed.
A pre-performance routine is defined as ‘A sequence of task relevant thoughts and actions which an athlete engages in systematically prior to his or her performance of a specific sport skill.’ (Moran, 1996, p177). Take for example a shot putter; A pre-performance routine he/she may execute may look something like this:
· Step into the circle
· Take a deep breath and Visualize technique
· Use cue words: Power and Release
· Execute technique
It seems straight forward but the simple coupling of the mental skills assist the athlete in executing their skill with precision. These routines can also aid in calming nerves, channeling one’s energy, and focusing the mind.
Building a Pre-Performance Routine:
Building a pre-performance routine can undoubtedly boost an athlete’s success. As hinted by the definition the key to routines lies in consistency. Thus, if at times you find your performances to be inconsistent then developing a pre-performance routine may be for you. It is important to note that these routines will take time and practice to become established however, CONSISTENTLY (yup, that word again!) practicing it will help it come to fruition. To help you build a routine here are some key points to consider:
1) What is the skill you want to execute?: It may be a free kick, golf putt, tennis serve. Whatever it may be the important part is simply identifying the skill.
2) Identify any problem areas: Maybe you tense up during a putt or your chest needs to be upright during a shot put throw. It is essential to identify these areas as they help you determine where you would use a mental technique. For example, the same golfer who is too tense during his/her put may take a deep breath and use a cue word such as ‘relax’ before taking their shot.
3) Type of learner: Are you visual, auditory or kinesthetic? This is useful as it can help you determine which mental skill you can couple with the execution of your skill. Visual learners may want to engage in visualization, auditory learners may want to use a cue word or phrase, and lastly kinesthetic may prefer to perform shadow movements of the skill they want to execute. This rule is not set in stone, but it can be taken into consideration when sifting out what will work best for you.
4) Mental skills: Any of the mental skills used should be simple and to the point.
5) Consistency and Commitment: Like with acquiring any skill, it is important to be committed to the process and perform it consistently. A routine is something that is tailored to you so make sure the fit is good!